By itself, championship Sunday is one of the best sports days of the year. Four NFL teams. Two games. Two tickets to the Super Bowl. Hell, the matchups could be Cardinals-Panthers and Bengals-Bills and the nation would still tune in.
But when one game features the oldest rivalry in pro football, one that calls to mind Halas and Lombardi and Butkus and Nitschke? And the other showcases a swaggering New York squad desperate for its first Super Bowl berth since Woodstock, against the most successful franchise in NFL history? As Dan Dierdorf would say: ho-ho-HO!
With the lines, and all times Eastern:
Packers (-3) at Bears, Sunday, 3 pm, FOX
It's not every day you see a road favorite in a conference championship game, but then again, Aaron Rodgers is no everyday quarterback. Snubbed by 21 teams in the 2005 draft, the Green Bay gunslinger has steamrolled the opposition in four straight elimination games, capping it off with an ungodly stat line in last week's demolition of the Falcons (31-36, 366 yards, 3 TDs). But the Packer offense will face the sternest test of the year when it battles both the elements (gametime temperature at Chicago's Soldier Field: 20 degrees) and the vaunted Bears' defense. The Bears have a dynamic QB of their own in Jay Cutler, but his only playoff win came last week against the 8-9 Seahawks. The health of Green Bay's All-Pro cornerback Charles Woodson will be key: he's been battling a toe injury all season but is still liable to have at least one game-changing play.